By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - For the chamber, the third annual Harker Heights Community Wine Festival marked tremendous growth over last year's festival.
But for a Salado winery, just being there was a triumph. Last September, Salado Creek Winery was destroyed during flooding caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine.
Owner Jon Moore's winery took on more than five feet of water. The pressure blew out the back wall of the winery, destroying all his equipment and strewing hundreds of bottles of wine down Salado Creek.
"It was gut-wrenching," Moore said. "I can't even begin to describe it emotionally."
At last year's festival, Moore sold all that was left of his winery.
But with the help of friends at the Georgetown Winery, Salado Creek Winery is back on its feet. The winery has moved to a new location, and in the past year, Moore's wines have won awards and gained a momentum of publicity.
"Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," he said.
Salado Creek Winery was one of 10 wineries on hand giving out tastes and selling bottles to attendees. Only Texas wines were represented from wineries in Lampasas, Pine Bluff and Bluff Dale, to name a few.
What sets Texas wines apart from other wines, besides being "better," as Texas Vineyard & Smokehaus owner Cheryl Hernandez put it, is a reliance on the Tempranillo grape.
The grape is native to Spain and Portugal. Using it gives red wines more body and a smoky flavor, Red Caboose owner Gary McKibben said. It is a perfect complement to barbecue or a good steak, McKibben said.
Lighter wines take on a sweeter flavor.
But wine was not all that was served. Chefs gave attendees cooking demonstrations, various prizes were handed out and live music played continuously at Harker Heights Community Park. There even was a hotdog-eating contest.
"The more things we have like this, the more we raise the quality of life in the city," Harker Heights Mayor Mike Aycock said.
The Harker Heights Community Wine Festival is organized by the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber Chairwoman Jennifer Klingenberg said the amount of wineries participating more than doubled. Last year, four wineries came to the festival; this year there were 10.
"This is a great way to bring people to our community, and to let people know what the chamber does," chamber president Bill Kozlik said.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.